Rest In Peace David Bowie. Through Rock, Funk & Glam, He Discovered New Musical Planets.
Rock & Roll legend David Bowie has died. The 69 year-old British vocalist, guitarist, and producer had been battling an undisclosed form of cancer for 18 months. He passed away two days after his birthday, and less than one week after releasing his 25th studio album, Blackstar (January 8).
In March of 2016, Bowie was to be honored at a Carnegie Hall concert in New York City. Among those playing to celebrate David’s music are The Roots. While the London, England-born Bowie’s albums were traditionally filed in the Rock section, his work would extend to include Soul, Funk, Electronic, and other genres. Of his 2013 album The Next Day, Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti told Rolling Stone, “[David Bowie and I] were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar.” Bowie’s album predated K-Dot’s To Pimp A Butterfly, so the musicians likely were studying good kid, m.A.A.d. city or previous works. “We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn’t do a straight-up Hip-Hop record. He threw everything on there, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid Rock & Roll.”
Thanks to notable works like 1972’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, Bowie helped pioneer what is now known as Glam Rock. The singer used operatic narratives, extensive costuming, and heavy ballads. At the forefront, Bowie would deeply influence the emerging Punk movement.
Jon Pareles of The New York Times eloquently remembered David’s impact: “Mr. Bowie wrote songs, above all, about being an outsider: an alien, a misfit, a sexual adventurer, a faraway astronaut. His music was always a mutable blend: rock, cabaret, jazz and what he called “plastic soul,” but it was suffused with genuine soul. He also captured the drama and longing of everyday life, enough to give him No. 1 pop hits like “Let’s Dance.”
‘Turn and face the strange / Ch-ch-changes / Oh look out now you rock and rollers / Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older.‘”
In addition to his own sprawling discography, Bowie would mix, produce, and write for peers such as Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Mott The Hoople. His Young Americans work would be a breakthrough for Luther Vandross, who provided writing and background vocals. In recent years, David would collaborate with the likes of Arcade Fire, TV On The Radio, and even Ice Cube, on a 1997 official remix of “I’m Afraid Of Americans”:
David Bowie’s music has strong ties to Hip-Hop. Bowie’s “Fame” was more than a sample—it was a motif in Jay Z’s 2001 “Takeover” campaign as well as Public Enemy’s “Night Of The Living Baseheads.” One of Bowie’s New Wave hits of the 1980s, “Let’s Dance,” would be a feature in Puff Daddy’s sample-driven 1990s run, courtesy of “Been Around The World.” His famed Queen collaboration “Under Pressure” would notably (and historically, from a legal perspective) provide the music to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.” Tracks like “Soul Love” and “This Is Not America,” are some of the many that have also made their way to Hip-Hop songs.
Ambrosia For Heads extends our condolences to the family, friends, and fans of David Bowie.
#BonusBeat: Here is Bowie telling Good Morning America‘s Bryant Gumbel about Hip-Hop in 1993:
— EE. | (@ernestestime) January 11, 2016